So, as the lady at my fish market was chasing after my runaway lobster (the little bugger attempted a brazen escape by jumping off the scale and scurrying under the counter) she commented that she had been seeing an awful lot of me lately;-)
It’s true, while the poor fish chapter may have felt a bit neglected in the past, it is now getting quite a workout.
First up, I am catching up with last week’s Vanilla-Braised Lobster recipe. I’ll admit right up front, this New England girl LOVES lobster, but I don’t get to eat a lot of it since moving across the pond because it is even crazier expensive here than in the States. Dorie’s recipe was the perfect excuse to splurge, and not just on the price; three blocks of butter and 2 vanilla beans rounded out this exotic dish! I took her advice and served the braised lobster on a bed of sautéed spinach. What can I say, it was Absolutely Delicious! My husband said that Dorie had redeemed herself after the aspic fiasco:-)
Two of my favorite stores in Paris, E.Dehillerin and G.Detou, are within easy walking distance of each other. On our last trip I dragged my husband along to both and purchased some pistachio oil and baking chocolate at Detou before heading over to Dehillerin to wander aimlessly up and down the cluttered aisles, all the while wishing that my suitcases were bigger. After an hour or so my husband got antsy and dragged me up to the checkout counter, clutching my sole purchase, a new food mill. Both stores have a rather arcane check out process which involves two separate counters. At the first counter, checkout guy #1 rings up your wares and provides you with a bill, which you then bring to a second counter, so that checkout guy #2 can collect your money and give you a receipt, which you then bring back to #1 to collect your goods. In any case, #2 was apparently feeling feisty that day because he asked me where I lived and looked quite surprised when I told him that I live in Germany. I’m guessing it’s the accent. “Really?” he asked, “Germany? Well, nobody’s perfect.”
Having only used the food mill once since then, I was admittedly confused and more than a little skeptical when I pulled it out for this week’s recipe, Riviera Fish Soup. Dorie assures us that it can puree an entire fish (bones, skin and all!), as does the YouTube promotional guy who asks, “Did you ever want to puree fruits or vegetables, but you didn’t want to drag out the big food processor, or clean it up later?” Certainly sounds promising.
Well, let me be blunt, YouTube guy lies! Yes, the food processor is not that much fun to clean, but at least it keeps the mess contained. The food mill, on the other hand, produced possibly one of the bigger messes that my little kitchen has ever seen. It took quite some effort to get the whole batch of soup worked through and my husband had to take over early on as I apparently lack the requisite elbow power to get it done. Afterwards I had to give my kitchen a thorough scrub to remove all the bits which had flown about. Days later I was still finding remnants which I somehow missed the first time over.
So, right, the soup. It was delicious, but it felt like quite a journey to get it made and I have decided that this is one dish which is better to order in a restaurant. Luckily I had a few glasses of Pastis to help me through it!
Oh, yeah, I totally agree! Cleaning the fish and using the food mill was a huge pain! But I loved the soup, too. I’m so bummed I didn’t make it to E. Dehillerin when I was in Paris—next time for sure!
But your journey included Dehillerin and Detou – Can you believe I lived in the building next to Detou for over 4 years?! When I didn’t have a kitchen to cook in!!!!
I totally agree with milling the fish. Ugh! I liked the flavor of the soup as well! As for your lobster dish, it looks absolutely beautiful! What a lovely treat!
What a food story. I’ve been in stores in South America with that bizarre system of keeping everyone’s cousin employed. The lobster looked amazing. I am a New England girl too…it stays in your blood, but I am just as satisfied with a lobster roll on the beach.
If the instructions look complicated I don’t usually follow them..fish in a food mill, strange. I only use it to make tomato sauce and applesauce. Bummer on the mess. Glad you enjoyed the meals.
I have been in Frtench department stores that have that same check-out system. There is nothing about we Americans that doesn’t want to close the sale immediately and get your money in hand. No wandering around trying to find Counter #2. I’ve been to Paris three times and have never stepped into E.Dehillerin and G.Detou. How did that happen. Glad you enjoyed both these recipes. Enjoyed the food mill story.
You had me smiling quite often during this post, Rose! Dehillerin is a dream of mine! I hope to get there one of these days!
I use a food mill for making some of my jam…it works really well for getting out the seeds from my berries. Because I use it often…I just couldn’t fathom pureeing a whole pot of soup with bones and skin! I decided to use snapper filets. They worked great and then I pureed the soup in my blender. Much easier! We loved this dish!
Your lobster looks great too! I still have to make that one.
Have a great weekend!
Dehillerin is such a fantastic place. Tricia and I always make that one of our stops even if we don’t
buy a thing. (I always think about carting it home on the plane and that stops me right there.)
Your lobster and spinach looks wonderful, we served it that way too. As for the soup, some things
are better left to order out.
Your story of the lobster making a great escape had me giggling. He sure didn’t want to be dinner, but I’m glad he was caught because that was a delicious meal, wasn’t it? As for the soup, I’m marveling how everyone interpreted the instructions a little big differently. I love my food mill. Like Diane, I use it mostly for applesauce and tomato sauce but occasionally for other things. This was the first time for fish though. I wonder why it was SO messy. Glad that FFWD has kept your fishmonger busy. And I’m not dreaming of a trip to Paris to check out those shops. Sounds like classic Paris.
I liked the lobster too, but the price was prohibitive. Kudos for using live lobsters. The fish soup was not for me – I just didn’t dig the texture or look of mine, although it tasted OK.
Oh I so enjoyed this post- including that last shot of the Pastis in Paris. Yes, as Nana said we always try to make it in these shops. A few times I splurged and got a smaller copper pot or such and on the last trip I spied what has turned into one of my favorite little items- their small plastic scraper. It is very inexpensive and has their name and address printed right on it. Whether working cookie dough or using it to get veggies neatly off the cutting board, it never fails to make me smile. And you had me laughing about your real life food mill and lobster experiences. Such adventures. Those finished plates looked amazing – esp the gorgeous vanilla lobster. Great job ~
Amazing story about the two checkout lines. I’ve never seen (or heard of) anything like that. I’m with you on using a food mill to puree an entire whole fish. Never again. Your lobster presentation is lovely. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
With every post I read I am more grateful that I did not make this recipe. You are such a trooper. Loved all your overseas stories especially the lobster. Glad that dish was a hit.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggled through the process of getting my fish through the food mill. I had flecks of fish in my hair! The soup was a fun adventure, but not one I’ll repeat. Your plated lobster looks amazing!
I think that another Dorista’s tip on cooking the fish separately from the vegs, straining and then combining the two parts is a very good idea! I was saved from buying a food mill in that the one and only unit available at the store was defective! Otherwise, I did enjoyed the fish stew!